Best Chinese Buffets North of Boston
The Chinese Buffet, a love hate relationship
I love all kinds of Chinese food, authentic and the American/Chinese items we are all so familiar with. Every now and then I am in the mood for Chinese Buffet. I don’t expect it to be as good as ordering each dish individually but there are places that come close. The best time to do Chinese buffet is Sunday, usually for dinner. This is when the big ticket items are on display, like lobster, oysters and prime rib.
The atmosphere is contemporary Asian design with soft colors and soothing music playing. Bamboo offers a regular menu, daily lunch buffet (12.99) and a good-size popular Sunday night buffet from 5pm-8pm (24$). The Sunday night buffet has a large amount of seafood on it in addition to the usual Americanized Chinese specialties you know and love. The buffet includes soup, which the server will bring you upon request. The usual fare is done pretty well for a buffet. Chicken fingers have thin batter and are not greasy, boneless spareribs are tender and not chewy. The crab rangoon actually tastes like crab. The steak teriyaki is phenomenal; cooked med rare and sliced into strips. The seafood is really where it’s at here.
The buffet offers oysters, tuna poke and several shrimp dishes. All are fresh and plentiful. There are usually 5 or 6 kinds of maki rolls, and 4 or 5 sashimi/ sushi selections. A huge favorite is the pan fried lobster. It is wonderfully delicious. The entire lobster is cut up into bite size pieces so there is tail, knuckle and claw. Just in case it sounds like it is all seafood, don’t worry. Lots of chicken items, Peking duck wrapped in pancakes with accompaniments, several noodles and rice dishes, salad, desserts and ice cream. The fried items have a kind of delicate, crispy coating that actually leaves you feeling pleasantly full, instead of bloated. As with any buffet don’t try to go a half hour before they close…it will be almost bare. Depending on server, the service can be challenging. 1 Lan Drive, Westford MA www.bamboogourmet.com
Feng Shui offers a daily lunch buffet 1:30am – 2:30pm (13$) and Sunday night dinner buffet 5pm-8:30pm (22$). The décor is modern Asian restaurant. A standout is the Lo Mein which is mixed with a trace of garlicky, spicy mustard. It’s remarkably clean and greaseless, with a healthy smattering of crunchy green peppers. Other worthwhile choices include flaky, greaseless scallion pancakes, sesame balls, pan fried fish, deep-fried jumbo shrimp coated in a milky coconut sauce, and delicate green spinach dumplings that retain their structural integrity even after a few dunks in soy.
Upon request, the server will bring you a choice of soup. Buffet selections include a small salad bar, several kinds of maki rolls/sushi/sashimi, dim sum and pastries/fruit/ice cream. Fried items are lightly battered and not greasy and all of the selections are usually nice and hot. They replenish items frequently and do so before they run out. They also remove the end of the pan. One unusual thing about this restaurant is the service. It is actually quite good. You rarely have to ask for drink refills and if you do, they will keep an eye on you so it doesn’t happen again. Employees do not stand around talking; they are always seeing to the customers. 285 Chelmsford St., Chelmsford MA www.gofengshui.com
The décor is typical old-school Chinese restaurant. China Blossom is a large restaurant with several rooms and a large bar/lounge area. China Blossom is a landmark in the Merrimack Valley. Richard and Connie Yee opened China Blossom in 1960 on Route 125 in North Andover. Their son David now runs the restaurant. They offer a daily lunch buffet from 11:30am-2:00pm (11$ weekdays, 14$ weekends) and a dinner buffet from 5pm-8pm Monday-Thursday (21$), from 5pm-9pm on Friday and Saturday (23$), and from 4:30pm to 8pm on Sunday (23$). The buffet features classic Asian favorites, soup, fresh seasonal fruit, and dessert. The gourmet dinner buffet features a carving station for Prime Rib, Peking duck, create-your-own noodle soups, and a diverse selection of sushi. China Blossom is the type of place your curious grandparents used to visit when they wanted something ethnic. Here you’ll find French fries side by side with egg rolls. 946 Osgood St., North Andover MA www.chinablossom.com
Changsho is a modern Asian restaurant in Porter Square and one of the few restaurants in Cambridge with their own parking lot. They offer a lunch buffet Monday through Friday from 11:30am-2:00pm and a Sunday Brunch Buffet from 11:30am-3:00pm. The buffet includes soup, appetizers, entrees, fresh fruit and dessert and the Sunday brunch also includes dim sum. The quality of the food is very good and the service is excellent. I found the selections to be healthier than at other Chinese buffets. In addition to the regular fare of General Gau’s chicken, lo-mein, and spareribs they offer dishes like miso-glazed fish, cold Jasmine tea smoked duck, hunan filet of fish, avocado shrimp with pine nuts and dry fried green beans. The dim sum selections included shrimp and chive crispy dumplings, scallion pancake and steamed edamame dumplings. The Peking ravioli are much better than the norm, as is the dessert pastries. Decent sushi selection. 1712 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge www.changshorestaurant.com
NH POUTINEFEST, NORTHEAST DELTA DENTAL STADIUM, MANCHESTER NH SATURDAY, JUNE 24TH FROM 2:30pm-7pm
This festival is New England’s original celebration of the French-Canadian classic, poutine. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample a healthy portion of poutine from the participating restaurants. The restaurants will also be competing against each other for the “Best Poutine of The Fest”. VIP ticket holders can enter the Fest at 2:30 PM. General Admission ticket holders can enter the Fest at 3:30 PM. The event ends at 7 PM. VIP tickets are $40. They include early entry to the event, the official 2017 NH PoutineFest T-shirt ($20 value), and are eligible for special opportunities. General Admission tickets are $30. Following NH PoutineFest, all attendees are invited to the Franco-American Heritage Night at the ballpark free of charge. The Fisher Cats will be taking on the Binghamton Rumble Ponies followed by an Atlas Fireworks show. Buy tickets at www.eventbrite.com/e/nh-poutinefest-2017-tickets-32995558604. Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, 1 Line Drive Manchester http://www.nhpoutinefest.com
Sausage Week 2017, Bronwyn Restaurant, Somerville, June 13 – June 18
For one week Bronwyn is featuring a special dish showcasing their respect for all things Wurst. You will transport you to different parts of the world via their offerings. Ready yourself for deliciousness like kasewurst, a Swiss pork sausage made with Emmantaler cheese, or the Kielbasa Pounder (which pretty much speaks for itself). All sausages are served with potatoes, sauerkraut and haus mustard. Supplies are limited, so get over there before the brats run out. Bronwyn Restaurant, 255 Washington St, Somerville MA www.bronwynrestaurant.com
Winnipesaukee Wine Festival, Meredith NH, June 29th from 5:30pm-8:00pm
Celebrate the 12th annual Wine Festival on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee on Thursday, June 29; hosted by The Common Man Family and Martignetti Companies of NH, with proceeds benefiting Girls at Work. Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with auctions for getaways, appetizers from local restaurants, craft beer sampling and wine sampling from dozens of domestic and international vintners. Tickets for the VIP Room featuring exclusive high-end wine sampling and a commemorative glass are $125, and limited to only 100 tickets. VIP tickets also have access to the Grand Tasting. Grand Tasting tickets are $75 in advance, and $85 at the door. Purchase tickets at Lakehouse restaurant, online, or at the door as quantities allow. Mill Falls at the Lake is pleased to offer discounted rates to guests attending the Winnipesaukee Wine Festival. Information is available on the website. Church Landing at Mill Falls, 281 Daniel Webster Highway, Meredith, NH www.eventbrite.com/e/12th-annual-winnipesaukee-wine-festival-tickets-34527497675
Mastering Whipped Cream
Getting soft peaks—and not going too far (oops, butter!) is easy if you use these three tips:
1. Start with the right ingredients. For fluffy, stable whipped cream, use cartons labeled “heavy cream,” “whipping cream,” or “heavy whipping cream.” (Save the light cream for coffee.) For sweetness, add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar per cup of cream before beating.
2. Watch carefully. In a chilled bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat chilled cream and sugar until the beaters leave visible lines when drawn across the cream. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and continue to beat until soft peaks form. (When you hold up the beaters, the cream should stand up, and then flop over.)
3. If you do over whip, don’t panic. Add a splash of fresh, un-whipped cream to the curdled lumps and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Repeat as needed until the mixture smooths out.